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Independent administrator services

Hugh James can act as an independent administrator of deceased persons’ estates, following appointment by a court order.

Why might an independent administrator be appointed?

An independent administrator might be appointed where:

  • the personal representative (executor or administrator) of the estate cannot be found or has renounced their role, and there is no one else who is able to act; or
  • the personal representative started to act but now is not fulfilling their duties in the administration of the estate; or
  • there is a dispute in the estate (this could be between all or some of the beneficiaries, or between the beneficiaries and the personal representative), meaning the personal representative is unable to progress the estate or the beneficiaries are unhappy for them to continue to act.

Who applies for an independent administrator to be appointed?

The application can be made by anyone with an interest in the estate, such as the beneficiaries or the personal representative, where there are circumstances (such as those outlined above) meaning the estate administration cannot move forward.

The court will need to be satisfied that there is a need for an independent administrator to be appointed.

What is the role of the independent administrator?

The role of an independent administrator is to progress the estate administration to its conclusion.  The independent administrator will be neutral in any disputes between the parties involved in the estate, and will seek to resolve the estate efficiently and fairly.

If Hugh James are appointed, who will be named as independent administrator?

We act as independent administrator through the Hugh James Trust Corporation Limited.  More information about our trust corporation can be found here.

Who will deal with the estate administration on behalf of Hugh James Trust Corporation Limited?

Our independent administrator services are delivered by our large, experienced Estate Administration team, working collaboratively with our expert Private Wealth Disputes team.

The independent administrator’s role is neutral and we will not take an active part in any disputes, but our Private Wealth Disputes lawyers will advise the administrator regarding its role in any court proceedings associated with the estate.  This helps to ensure that matters are concluded in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

Where required, our teams can also draw on expertise from other departments in Hugh James – for example, if there are properties or businesses forming part of the estate, we can call on our Property and Corporate/Commercial teams.  The full-service nature of our firm means we can take a multi-disciplinary approach, enabling the estate to progress as swiftly as possible under one roof.

What is Hugh James’s experience in acting as an independent administrator?

We have acted in numerous estates in which we were appointed by the court as independent administrator.  These are typically high-value estates with complexities such as overseas assets and beneficiaries, business interests, and rental properties.  We have acted in estates where:

  • disputes between the parties involved have been settled prior to our appointment, and a neutral independent administrator is needed to conclude the estate administration; and
  • where the estate administration has faltered due to ongoing disputes, meaning an independent administrator is needed to progress matters pending the resolution of the disputes between the parties.

What is Hugh James’s geographical coverage when acting as independent administrator?

 We offer a nationwide service, administering a large volume of estates throughout England and Wales.  Where estates involve assets in other jurisdictions, we instruct reputable third party agents to assist.

What is the process for Hugh James being appointed to act as an independent administrator?

When we receive an enquiry as to whether we could potentially act as an independent administrator, we will first consider the circumstances and whether we are able to act.  If we are able to act and there are no conflicts of interest, we will provide statements confirming our fitness to act as an independent administrator, and our consent to being appointed as independent administrator by the court.

We will also provide information regarding our charges for acting as independent administrator, and any other details requested by the party applying for an independent administrator to be appointed.

If appointed by the court, we will liaise with the personal representative or their solicitors to obtain the information we require to progress the administration of the estate.  We will apply to the probate registry for the grant of representation to be revoked, and a new grant issued naming us as administrator.

Key contact

Eleanor Evans TEP


Eleanor is Head of the Trusts and Estates Administration Department, a large team dealing with estates and trusts administration on behalf of financial institution and trust corporation clients.  Eleanor is a specialist in wills, probate, tax and trusts, and is a full member of STEP (the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners).  She is also a committee member of the STEP Wales branch.

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